The messengers arrive in 1944 and their first act is to kill a couple in order to assume their identities. It's interesting to watch as they become fascinated by the music of the time and just how different life is back then but it's not enough to distract them from their mission. In 2044, the actions of the Messengers has really begun to shift the space time continuum. The scientists are clearly becoming concerned with the possible changes that are taking place.
At a round table, Cole suggests that they need to follow the Messengers back to 1944 but Cassie doesn't believe that Cole will be able to handle himself because he barely functioned in 2016. This is reason enough for Jones to decide that they both need to team up and head back together. Jones warns that since this is the first time they've sent back two people that they could arrive hours or even days apart and so she suggests that they arrange a meeting point. Cole picks the hotel where he found a picture of him and Cassie together.
By the time Cassie arrives, Cole has been there for a few days and he is absolutely thriving in the environment which irritates Cassie to no end. Not only has Cole secured lodgings for them, he has also arranged for a couple of outfits to be ready for Cassie. Rather than seeing this as a sign that Cole is serious about getting the job done, all that Cassie can fixate on is Cole's happiness to be away from 2044.
Back in 2044, Ramsey is finally allowed to see his son, who wonders if Ramsey has done something bad to earn being locked up. Ramsey tries to explains saying that he did something to benefit his son but does not get to expand on the idea because they are interrupted by Jones. Allowing a visit is the last of Jones's kindness when it comes to Ramsey. Jones claims that the facility needs the security which Deacon provides and having Ramsey alive is upsetting Deacon. Jones has no sympathy for Ramsey, claiming that he worked to organize the death of untold millions in order to save a child he barely knew. Ramsey tries to argue back that Katrina became involved in the splitter project to save her daughter but Jones doesn't see it as a bad thing because if she is successful, millions of lives will be spared. Ramsey begs for one last visit and Jones coldly informs him that he has already had it. Deacon enters the cell with his men and knocks Ramsey unconscious.
Back in 1944, Cole and Cassie arrive at a gala and when Cole begins to introduce Cassie as his wife, she's quick to cut him off and claims to be his sister instead. Cole heads to the bar for a drink and is immediately pegged as a veteran by a member of the FBI. I think it's telling that a stranger can see the damage Cole has from everything he has survived. Cassie believed that Cole would be out of touch in this era but it actually suits him better. In 1944, there would be men walking around haunted by what they have seen and done both in WWII and WWI. 1944 is also not nearly as technologically advanced as 2016, and so to survive, one need only pick up on basic social cues. Cole isn't struggling, he's thriving.
Cassandra spies one of the Messengers and by the time she and Cole catch up with them, they've already killed who they believe to be their mark. It turns out however that the Messengers have killed the wrong person. It's Cole who figures out that the Messengers are looking for Thomas Crawford Jr.. Cole is completely unsurprised to learn that all of his life, Thomas has suffered with mental illness and makes the link between Thomas and Jennifer. Cole explains that the voices people like Jennifer and Thomas hear are real and that they keep space and time flowing.
This is a big revelation. I've long thought that portrayal of Jennifer as mentally ill and homicidal to be extremely ableist. I like that they are pulling away from that trope and showing that it's a mistake to simply toss someone aside because of mental illness and that these people have value. It's a great way to turn around a toxic trope and I'm impressed that 12 Monkeys went in that direction.
They track down Thomas and of course, he's in a mental institution drawing images of the 12 monkeys on the wall in red paint. He actually seems excited that the monkeys have come for him at last. When Cole and Cassandra meet up with Thomas, he explains that he is going to die today despite Cassandra's assertion that there's no such thing as fate. Thomas works with Cassandra and Cole to ensure that their lives are spared and has no problem sacrificing himself for Cole.
Back in 2044, the death of Thomas causes the flora to start turning red. Clearly, this is the red forest that the Messengers keep talking about. It comes just in time for Ramsey to free himself from Deacon, who had Ramsey digging his own grave. It becomes clear rather quickly that being in the red forest is dangerous, so Ramsey and Deacon retreat quickly with Ramsey holding onto the gun. I must admit that there's a part of me that just wanted to see Ramsey shoot Deacon, so that we could be done with his character but he is going to need Deacon to get back into the splitter facility.
Even as Ramsey and Deacon are running for their lives, the scientists at the facility are becoming frantic. Thomas's death has caused a wave of destruction and the scientists struggle to hold onto the tether which connects them to Cassie and Cole to no avail. The scientists lose the tether, thus stranding Cole and Cassie in 1944. Things look grim for Cassie and Cole because Thomas's death resulted in a explosion which leaves them unconscious. What neither of them now is that authorities have arrived on the scene and they are going to want an explanation as to why there are now two dead bodies and what caused the explosion. The FBI also suspects that Cassie and Cole killed Messengers first mark.
As much as this episode gave us some clues as to how time really works, it was essentially about the deteriorating relationship between Cassie and Cole. As they grow further apart, Cassie's relationship with Deacon seems to be flourishing, something which Cole is certainly not pleased about. It would be easy to call Cassie whiny and cold because of her treatment of Cole, but she has legitimate beefs. Before Cole came into her life, she was a respected professional woman and had a man in her life she cared about. Now her life is in tatters, Aaron was burned to death, she's a murderer and stuck in 2044 which is a hell hole. Cassie didn't ask for any of this. She's right to be resentful.
Unlike Cassie, Cole hasn't really lost anything. Yes, his life has been in danger throughout this mission but he's gotten the chance to experience things that no one else from his time has. He has enjoyed good and easy access to food, transportation, and clothing. In this episode, he talks about enjoying whiskey sours. The mission may be terrible but for him, there's been a lot of perks. If anything, the mission has brought out a kinder side of him that he didn't even know existed.
It all comes down to a matter of circumstances. Cassie safety and comfort in 2014 allowed her to be a kinder gentler person. It's not accident that Cassie's, I don't give a fuck attitude started when she moved to a time when life is harder and the wrong decision could end in death. In many ways we are shaped by our circumstances.
I want to know what the hell is going on with the red forest. The 12 Monkeys has been playing with this idea since season one. Enough with the teasers already and tell my why the hell this is relevant and why I should care about it. 12 Monkeys has also introduced the idea of Primes. It's great they are moving away from the ableism they engaged in with people who are mentally ill but they need to hurry up and tie the loose threads together. As much as I am interested in Cole and Cassie's relationship, I don't want the meta to be sacrificed to develop it.